“Working on our long-term storage strategy is the best part of my job.”

“Our cloud-connected storage costs next to nothing and I never have to think about it.”

“Our tape library is my best friend.”

Said no IT administrator. Ever.

Where should you put all of your old data?

Let’s face it: Long-term storage is not much fun.

That’s why we’ve released a new paper titled “Cloud Tiering and Object Storage for Backup — Balancing Cost and Speed”. After all, the only thing more important than easy access to today’s data is easy access to yesteryear’s data. The need for long-term storage is driven by business imperatives — backup/restore, disaster recovery, audit-readiness, compliance with regulations — that never stop growing.

Should you store your aging data on site? That keeps it close at hand, but at the high cost of infrastructure, maintenance, electricity, hardware, software and, most of all, your time.

Should you put it in the cloud and forget about it? That might seem simpler and less costly than on-premises storage, but it’s hardly care-free and it’s not always less expensive.

Then come the infrastructure questions: Block storage or object storage? Private or public cloud? Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Azure Blob Storage or some other cloud storage provider? Cool or cold tier?

Nobody wants to think much about long-term storage.

Everybody wants it to be inexpensive and automatic. They want backup/restore, disaster recovery and archiving without having to think about it.

“You know what I want?” you ask your fellow admin one day. “I want a vacuum inlet valve next to my desk. I want to put our backup server in front of it so that all of our data that’s more than 30 days old just gets vacuumed up.”

“Where would the data go?” asks your colleague.

“I don’t care where it goes, as long as it’s inexpensive and we don’t have to spend time dealing with it.”

“Uh-huh. What about when you need to retrieve some of it?”

“Then I’ll tell the server which data I want. It will find that data, wherever it is, and suck it right back through the valve onto the network. At near-LAN speed.”

Your colleague is not sure what to think.

“That’s my Idea of Simple,” you say. “Is that too much to ask?”

Close to your Idea of Simple: Cloud tiering for backup and long-term storage

Well, yes, the vacuum valve for data is a bit too much to ask.

But.

As our Mike Wilson describes in the paper, you can get close to your Idea of Simple by following a few guidelines:

  1. Use Object storage because of its advantages over file and block storage. Objects are for storing and retrieving unstructured blobs of data in their entirety. They may consist of image files, HTML pages, binaries, video, executables and user-generated content — mostly unstructured data unlikely to ever be changed. That makes object-based storage ideal for backup and long-term storage.
  2. Store your objects in cloud tiers. Cloud-tier backup to object storage services like Amazon S3 and Azure Blob is designed for huge scale and unstructured data. In cloud-tier backup for object based storage, the options make it possible to protect data for the long term at the lowest-possible monthly cost.
  3. Choose your tiers carefully. Think of tiers like bank accounts. You incur more fees on a checking account — for checks, withdrawals, ATM transactions and transfers — because you’re touching your money so often. But you don’t have those fees on a certificate of deposit, because you’re unlikely to touch your money for months or years. So it is with cloud tiers: The less often you move or retrieve your data, the less it costs you to store it.
  4. Examine your architecture to get all of the advantages of cloud-connected, long-term storage. You’ll need to think differently about data security and encryption for the cloud, and use deduplication and compression to reduce the amount of data you send off premises.
  5. Use cloud-connected storage software. The right application for backup/restore, disaster recovery and long-term storage tasks is smart enough to put data in the most advantageous cloud tiers. Then, when you need that data, the software can find and retrieve it automatically and transparently, no matter where it is.

Guidelines like those can put you on the road to your Idea of Simple.

Get the paper: Cloud-Tier Backup for Object Storage — Doing It Right

Are you happy with the time you spend on storage and backup? Thought not.

Do yourself a favor and get our paper, Cloud Tiering and Object Storage for Backup — Balancing Cost and Speed. You’ll come away with new perspective on saving money while taking advantage of cloud-connected, long-term storage.

And you won’t need to ask Facilities to install that vacuum valve next to your desk.

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